Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Kaiser study: States that didn't expand Medicaid have a higher rate of uninsured rural residents

Rural residents in Republican-led states that chose not to expand Medicaid under federal health reform are more likely to remain uninsured than their rural counterparts , Savannah Wooten confirms for the Daily Yonder. Of the 7.3 million uninsured rural residents, 52 percent live in states that didn't expand Medicaid, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

While about 16 percent of the U.S. population lives in rural areas, "nearly two-thirds of uninsured people in rural areas live in a state that is not currently implementing the Medicaid expansion," the report says. "As a result, uninsured rural individuals may have fewer affordable coverage options moving forward." (Kaiser graphic)

Between 2012 and 2013, only 51 percent of rural workers were enrolled in employee-covered insurance, compared to 57 percent of urban workers, the study found. "However, before ACA implementation, the rural population was significantly more likely to be covered by Medicaid (21 percent) or other public insurance (4 percent) than the metropolitan population (16 and 3 percent, respectively). Because Medicaid made up some of the gap in employer-sponsored coverage in rural areas, the uninsured rate was similar across rural and metropolitan populations prior to the ACA."

Uninsured rural residents are more likely to live in low-income working families, "and are generally unable to afford coverage on their own," the study fond. "Compared to their urban counterparts, however, rural uninsured may face particular challenges in accessing health care services when needed due to more limited supply of providers who can provide low-cost or charity care. Thus, there is a particular need to extend coverage in rural areas." (Read more)

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